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Don't forget about leftovers. Stock up on containers to save goodies for future meals.

Try this recipe for a happy kitchen

If you're planning to have a party in your home, the kitchen is where it begins and usually where the guests gravitate.

Party planning can help make it a happier holiday experience, say the experts.

Here's a list to help you prepare:

• Sift through recipes and plan your menu. Review your cookware and cooking utensils so you have everything you need to prepare your meal. Making a list and shopping for items in a specialty store can help you to stock your kitchen for less.

For beginners looking for the basics, non-stick or hard-anodized cookware sets offer value. For accomplished cooks, stainless steel is hard to beat. Although some cookware items do double duty, there's no good substitute for a roasting pan, a double boiler or a stockpot.

• Sharpen dull knives for optimum use. Test your knives ahead of time and make certain you have at least the basic types — paring, utility, serrated bread knife and sharpening steel. For holiday gatherings, consider an easy-to-use electric knife to assist with carving duties.

• Use the speed of appliances to minimize preparation time. Plug in a stick blender, a food processor or a stand mixer for the benefit of a second pair of hands. For winding down, invite guests to enjoy a freshly brewed cup of coffee, cappuccino or espresso.

• Shake, stir and set up refreshments in a separate place to maximize kitchen space. Ensure you have all the necessary accoutrements including glassware, ice bucket and tongs, wine markers and a corkscrew.

• Blend in extra glassware and dinnerware. Instead of using paper and plastic stand-ins, purchase affordable "party packs" of china plates, glasses and stainless utensils as a convenient and long-term solution to borrowing extras.

• Mix and mingle. Plan and prepare as many foods as you can before guests arrive — or ask them to bring a favorite dish — so that you'll be free to join the party.

• Serve up sumptuous fare on beautiful linens and add an assortment of candles and a festive centerpiece.

  • Spangler's Photography
  • Schaefer's Hobby Shop Inc.
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